Groups Doing Good: Black Girls RUN!

12 Jul

When I started walking the Breast Cancer 3-Day several years ago, one of the first things I noticed at the event was that the population of participants was mostly comprised of Caucasian females. Race is not something I normally notice, but it was SO obvious that the African-American, Hispanic, Asian, etc. women were being severely underrepresented. Hello! These women get breast cancer too! When I started running, I noticed the same demographic breakdown at races and other events. While I thought it was strange, I never really looked into it further.

Well, curiosity finally got the best of me, and a few months ago (at the risk of sounding out of place or rude) I broke down and asked a female African-American friend of mine why you don’t see more African-American women (and men, for that matter) at our local races or running groups. The general answer I was given was that (in her opinion, among her group of friends), fitness was just not something that was emphasized and that personal health issues were just something you kept to yourself and didn’t talk about much.

I was so puzzled by this because…isn’t it good for ALL PEOPLE to exercise and be healthy, regardless of race or sex?

Wanting to find out more about what could be done to encourage women (of all races) to get more motivated to exercise (and selfishly, run :)) and be more concerned with personal health education, I scoured Google. One of the groups I came across was Black Girls RUN! Their mission statement is simple, but I simply love it!

“Black girls run? Of course we do. In 2009, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks created Black Girls RUN! in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners. The mission of Black Girls RUN! is to encourage African-American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80% of African-American women are overweight. BGR! wants to create a movement to lower that percentage and subsequently, lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.”

Toni and Ashley. Photo courtesy of BGR!

BGR! is definitely not all talk. In addition to a website that offers a wealth of information on gear, lifestyle issues, healthy recipes, and health issues, they also put all of this into action by encouraging readers to join them at weekly group runs. BGR! hosts group runs in most major cities! If you would like to see if there is one in your area, click here.

Some people might wonder why I, obviously NOT a black girl, would be so interested in such a group. I will tell you why…because seeing unhealthy/unfit people is one of my BIGGEST pet peeves and I 100% support any group who is encouraging others to get up, get moving, and get healthy! Being educated about health and fitness is good for ALL people, and if BGR! is what makes a particular woman feel comfortable and get involved, well then that is AWESOME!

While there is not a BGR! group run in Baton Rouge, I have noticed the population of Black Girls RUN!ning in my weekly running club growing! Woot! I am so encouraged by this! I hope they will read this, find out more about this group, and get some information about starting a weekly group run in this area.

Ladies, you know who I’m talking to…

Just promise you’ll let this White Girl RUN! with you? Pretty please? (I need all the help I can get!) 🙂

Have you ever heard of Black Girls RUN!? What do you think of this group? What is one of your favorite organizations that you think is doing a great thing for our running community?

25 Responses to “Groups Doing Good: Black Girls RUN!”

  1. Jamie Gary July 12, 2011 at 8:34 AM #

    Very good of you to touch a sensitive subject. Your intentions are honest: to help fellow humans get out there and run, no matter their race, sex, etc. That’s why I believe you are so effective in your writing. Great work Katie Key!

    • katieRUNSthis July 12, 2011 at 8:42 AM #

      I really had to do some “self convincing” when writing this, because I certainly don’t want to come off as offensive. I really DO think this is a wonderful group and, like all the other groups in my Groups Doing Good category, they deserve some attention. Health and fitness is good for everyone! Yay for sweatin’ it out! 🙂

  2. Hydie July 12, 2011 at 9:02 AM #

    Wonderful blog post, Katie! I have heard of Black Girls Run and hope that someone will take the initiative to get it going here in BR. These groups also do incredible work in their communities! Love your groups doing good blogs and think you should talk to @thisjeff about his work – definitely doing lots of ‘good’!!!

  3. Naomi D. July 12, 2011 at 9:20 AM #

    I’m with you, seeing unhealthy people who do nothing but complain about being overweight is one of my biggest pet peeves.

    I recently stumbled upon Black Girls Run! and I absolutely love it! I’ve been an avid runner for about 2 years now, and being in Atlanta, I haven’t noticed an absence of Black runners at my races, but I love this group of women. The weekly runs are so supportive and positive. There are literally runners of all levels–some more walkers than runners–but what I love most is that the faster runners stay around and wait for everyone to come to the end, cheering on each person as they finish the run. No one gets left behind or comes to the end of the course and finds everyone gone. It’s great to be around such positive energy and support.

    I hope this story encourages more women of all races to take control of their health, even if they don’t end up becoming runners. And while I’m not a founding member, I feel safe saying that while “Black Girls” is in the name, all women are welcome. 🙂 I’m proud to be affiliated with such a great group of women.

    • katieRUNSthis July 12, 2011 at 9:25 AM #

      Thank you so much for dropping by and offering your kind words. I agree, offering a supportive environment where walkers/runners can feel motivated is the key to getting them off the couch and out pounding the pavement. It frustrates me when “elite” runners feel like they don’t have time to support newbie runners…or (gasp!) walkers. Everyone had to start somewhere. I have a few girlfriends in the ATL area and I am encouraging them to go out and join your group.
      Again, thanks for the kind words! Feel free to come back anytime!

  4. Kevin July 12, 2011 at 9:30 AM #

    Nice post, katie.. I actually knew of Blackgirlsrun from their twitter handle and they used to be in the sidebar of my old blogspot blog (and now ive added them to my current blog list… Ive written a few post on the lack of blacks (wasnt trying to be a poet here) on the running trails. In my running group, the two lead coaches are Kenyan, and I think there are two other blacks (besides me) in the whole group of about 250.. Sad, just sad. Now, Austin’s population is only 8 percent black, but it has always puzzled me that we dont get out and run more. In fact, in my family, I am THE ONLY runner. And sometimes THEY laugh at all the running I do. Maybe one day, I’ll get one to join me. But again, nice job.

    • katieRUNSthis July 12, 2011 at 12:57 PM #

      Hi Kevin! Glad you have added them back to your blog roll! Their blog makes for a great read! It is a shame that even your own family digs on your running. They should be supportive of you and your healthy habits! Hey, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it, right? The percentage of African-Americans in my city is 42.3% (according to Wikipedia) and at my weekly running group of about 250 people, MAYBE 10 people are black. That is such a low percentage! Too low! This is certainly an issue that needs to be addressed and action needs to be taken!

  5. nylse July 12, 2011 at 9:58 AM #

    I’m glad you wrote this, because this bothers me also. Good post!
    If i were in Baton Rouge, I’d run with you!!!

    • katieRUNSthis July 14, 2011 at 5:00 PM #

      Thank you for dropping by! If you ever make it this way, let me know! 🙂

  6. Tanya Walker Barnett July 12, 2011 at 12:27 PM #

    Thanks Katie for having the courage to address this issue. Most people wouldn’t touch talking about another race’s issues for rear of reprisal or being blasted. Unhealthy people come in all colors and we need to spread the awareness to all races. Check out:

    which states my kid’s generation will die before I do because of obesity. Google it and you will see many medical sites stating this. We gotta wake up and be proactive or the human race will die off.

    • katieRUNSthis July 12, 2011 at 12:35 PM #

      Tanya, thanks for coming by and commenting! I was hoping that no one would be offended or sense that I wasn’t being sensitive to the issue. The fact is, is that all groups and both sexes need to put more focus on encouraging others to be aware of their health and to get exercising. Obesity among children scares me to death. I see it when I go to the mall, to a restaurant, to…EVERYWHERE. The cycle needs to stop…NOW. ALL parents need to stop feeding their children garbage and set good examples for them by getting active!

  7. Jordan Trump July 12, 2011 at 12:45 PM #

    Wow! 80% of African American women are overweight? That statistic is shocking! I’m with you, I support people who are trying to better their health and take control of their weight issues. However I’d never paid much attention to the demographics of my running groups or had any idea that the previous statistic was so high! Kudos to them for the work they are doing, and kudos to you for bringing more attention to it!

    • katieRUNSthis July 12, 2011 at 12:49 PM #

      Crazy high percentage, right? But it is true. Obesity is something that affects ALL of us. What a lot of people don’t realize is that just because something is affecting a race that is not your own, does not mean it doesn’t affect YOU. It affects everyone. And did you know that children that have at least one overweight parent are 80% more likely to also be overweight? So see, this is not just a single generational problem. This affects our children, our future leaders, our future businessmen/women. Its scary!

  8. esinglet July 12, 2011 at 3:32 PM #

    Alright! Alright! Alright! Katie! I hear ya! Loud & Clear! I’ve heard of Black Girls RUN! and I event have their “preserve the sexy” running shirt. 🙂 I will say I’ve not really be into the running clubs, as I think they kind of intimidate me. I say that because I’m not a fast runner, I run for me. I set a goal, and I finish. Then again, a running group would probably help with my pace, endurance, and provide some camaraderie of like-minded individuals.

    While this next 3 weeks aren’t good for me to make the Happy’s Running Club runs, I will make an effort to join in August. Promise! I’ll wear my Black Girls RUN! shirt also! How’s that Katie?

    • katieRUNSthis July 12, 2011 at 3:36 PM #

      YES!!! I’m so good with peer pressure! 😉 Girl, you NEVER have to worry about not being “fast”. At almost 24 weeks pregnant, my “runs” are really walks…though I still call them runs to make myself feel better. I’m glad you run for YOU, that’s important. But I promise you that you are missing out on getting to know some awesome, supportive people (at all running levels) by not making it out to at least one running group! Trust me, it is an atmosphere of support and encouragement, not competition. I’ll be on the look out for your Black Girls RUN! shirt!!

  9. esinglet July 12, 2011 at 3:40 PM #

    Gracious! Forgive the typos!

  10. Regina July 12, 2011 at 7:53 PM #

    Thanks for a great article Katie! You’re brave to even mention this topic. I co-run the BGR group in Sacramento. Every time I go out to run, I get stopped by people (usually other black people) who are literally shocked that I’m running ! Just yesterday a black man felt the need to tell me “you know that’s gonna make you sweat, right?”. Of course, he was half way joking, but you understand the sentiment. Thanks again for the support. I’ve never seen you blog before but, I really like it. I’ve added you to my blog reader.

    • katieRUNSthis July 13, 2011 at 9:32 AM #

      Thank you, Regina! I really appreciate your time and your sweet words. Whether half joking or not, the man said those silly remarks because a stereotype DOES exist. It is so silly! You should hear the ignorant things my (African-American) girlfriends have told me that other people (sometimes their own families!) have said to them. It is just crazy! That line of thinking needs to change. Good for you for getting the BGR! Sacramento group going! I’m hoping to have some of the ladies in my weekly run group here step up and start one in my city!

      I’m so glad you have dropped by my blog and hope you enjoy it! Come back again soon!

  11. keyalus July 14, 2011 at 12:42 PM #

    I think the group is a great thing even though I am usually unable to make the group runs. I’ve done almost 40 races in 4 years and can usually count on my fingers the other BGR! I especially love that the group provides a catalyst for meeting other black girls who run. When I did spot another black girl at a race we might nod and smile but not speak. The group in Atlanta is huge and I would definitely strike up a convo with someone wearing a BGR! shirt.

    Now to get black girls running trails! I fear I am going to be all alone in my pursuit of an ultra. 🙂

  12. Eb July 19, 2011 at 10:17 AM #

    Hi Katie! As everyone else has stated awesome blog post! Im currently in Mississippi about to transition to Phoenix and have already contacted the BGR! group there so i can keep on pace with what I’ve started here. Regardless of race, health issues are not racist or prejudice. They are not concerned with your wealth or status. Look beyond my skin and see my heart (seriously!).

    • katieRUNSthis July 19, 2011 at 12:34 PM #

      Hi there! You will enjoy the PHX area! Talk about less humidity than Mississippi! Ha! I hear there is a large BGR! group in PHX so that should be fun for you! Plus, what a great way to make new friends!! Thank you for coming by and thank you for such a sweet comment! Happy moving…and running!

  13. Teshara December 10, 2011 at 3:06 PM #

    I’m glad to see this blog. A comment was made at my job, basically co-workers accused me of only associating with “black” people because I’m apart of organizations such as BGR (I’m also apart of a black philanthropic group). Clearly I have some ignorant co-workers who don’t understand the importance of supporting under represented communities. Thanks for reppin healthy lifestyles among black women!

  14. Marilyn Reed March 7, 2012 at 11:23 AM #

    Very nice article. Your genuine concern regarding the health of others was very transparent. Keep up the great work, my sister.


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